Posted in Book Reviews

No Signal: The Last by Hanna Jameson @Hanna_Jameson @VikingBooksUK

I hope everyone is having a relaxing weekend! I was pretty silent (well, less active than usual!) here and on social media due to a water leak that turned my living room into an indoor swimming pool and that urge to read book after book without stopping… But I’m back, and hoping my reviewing skills haven’t disappeared…

Today I’m reviewing a special book…

the lastTitle: The Last
Author: Hanna Jameson
Publisher: Vicking
Date of publication: 31st January 2019
Format: uncorrected bound copy
Number of pages: 392

Breaking: Nuclear weapon detonates over Washington

Breaking: London hit, thousands feared dead

Breaking: Munich and Scotland hit. World leaders call for calm

Historian Jon Keller is on a trip to Switzerland when the world ends. As the lights go out on civilization, he wishes he had a way of knowing whether his wife, Nadia and their two daughters are still alive. More than anything, Jon wishes he hadn’t ignored Nadia’s last message.

Twenty people remain in Jon’s hotel. Far from the nearest city and walled in by towering trees, they wait, they survive.

Then one day, the body of a young girl is found. It’s clear she has been murdered. Which means that someone in the hotel is a killer.

As paranoia descends, Jon decides to investigate. But how far is he willing to go in pursuit of justice? And what kind of justice can he hope for, when society as he knows it no longer exists?

my-review-red

I was in London the first time I laid eyes on a proof of The Last by Hanna Jameson. I remember clearly the moment I turned it and read the blurb. I recall thinking “wow.” The end of the world AND a murder? I’m a sucker for dystopian novels that give me the chills with the most awful scenarios bringing out what humanity is really made of. Add to this my addiction for dead bodies and you can tell The Last looked as if it had been written just for me! My heart was dancing a happy dance when I was offered a proof copy of my own at Bloody Scotland!

So… Was it all I wanted it to be?

To be honest, as enthusiastic as I was about this novel, I had no idea what to expect, or what I wanted it to be like. I only knew I wanted to forget 2019, our ‘near end of the world Brexit-Trump-wars-and all the bad stuff happening’ and enter a dark and somehow comforting apocalypse stuck in 392 pages, knowing that at the end of my reading, I’d look up and the universe would still be here.

The Last is written as a diary. Jon Keller, historian, decides that a testimony of the after-nuclear disaster which has destroyed the world might be of some use. Therefore, he starts jotting down events, memories, details of the daily ‘life’ in the Swiss hotel he finds himself stuck in.

The opening struck me. How do you think you’d get the news if nuclear bombs were bringing the world to an end? I’d probably learn the news from Twitter. Then Facebook. Then the TV. Then what? If nothing is left, then nothing more can appear on our screen. This idea scared me to death. It dawned on me I rely so much on social media in many aspects of my life, from blogging to checking on my friends or looking for jobs. I’d feel naked without this constant noise in my pocket. And the day those interactions disappear, I’ll know the world as we know it is over. The author really did a wonderful job at describing how human being adapt to change in extreme situations, but also how many of us have walls of habits we don’t pay attention to. Running hot water? A given. Internet connection? Of course. Food? Delivered weekly! Now I know I am totally unprepared for a zombie attack, a nuclear surprise, or a cyber-attack. If I usually don’t mind when reading this kind of things in its usual genre, here, in the middle of nowhere and in a setting so close to what we are living now, it made me uncomfortable. And panicky! And it was only the beginning…

Imagine yourself alone, far from your family, surrounded by strangers and snow. A hotel is a place to stay, not a home. How do you know who to trust? Who gets to decide? What happens to the daily practical decisions? Well, we grownups, find a new order, we create new rules, and the characters in The Last are pushed to the limits of their humanity to give the reader a taste of devastation. Hanna Jameson reminded me we may have brains and whatever, our survival instinct can bring the worst in people. Desperation, suspicions, loneliness… This novel goes over many steps survivors have to go through. I loved being appalled, surprised, frightened, and hopeless… I found relief in fleeting moments which rekindled my faith in mankind.

Then we find a body. In the big scheme of things, who really cares about a dead girl hidden somewhere in a hotel sheltering twenty people from the impossible state of the world? Jon does. And I did, too. This mix of genres is a welcome and original combination. Although I did hope there would be more about the mystery body and its murderer, I understood that this ‘issue’ was not as urgent as it would have been in a regular crime fiction novel. Ties are not left loose and answers are given (thank you, dear author!) I hate not getting to know! But the rather open ending is satisfying in a chilling way. Life goes on…

What I like most with awful apocalypse scenarios is the psychology behind the characters involved. The Last explores all kinds of reactions to the end of the world, from tears to fights, from the urge to flee to the instinct to stay alive. Hanna Jameson proves she knows what she’s talking about with carefully-chosen protagonists far from clichés and so close to us. Personalities get revealed as days go by, we get to learn about everyone in a deafening silence, a chest-tightening atmosphere, and a brilliantly weaved plot. Like I said earlier, characters adapt (or not!!!), decisions are made, choices are faced, and you can’t help being swept by this addictive nightmare served by a gripping writing.

The Last is a powerful surprise, a novel with a taste of current affairs and the core of mankind.

The end of the world is coming 31st January! Get your copy!

about-the-author-red

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Hanna Jameson’s fourth novel, part murder mystery and part post-apocalyptic thriller – THE LAST – is out early 2019, with Viking UK and Simon & Schuster – Atria Books US. The Last is the story of an American academic searching for the truth about a girl who has been murdered in his Swiss hotel in the aftermath of a nuclear war that has destroyed most of the Western world.

Jameson had written the first draft of her debut, award-nominated novel – SOMETHING YOU ARE – at just seventeen. Something You Are and two further novels in the series – GIRL SEVEN and ROAD KILL – are available now in the UK, Germany, Japan, and the Netherlands.

She lives in London currently, and is working on screenwriting projects. She likes whiskey, history, and emotionally taxing TV shows.

15 thoughts on “No Signal: The Last by Hanna Jameson @Hanna_Jameson @VikingBooksUK

  1. This sounds like a very cleverly written book to combine two genres. I can imagine reading it and thinking about how I would react and cope without all the things we take for granted. Adding in a murder and someone trying to solve it makes it all the more gripping.
    How nice you received this copy at bloody Scotland after already thinking about the book.
    Amanda xx

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  2. Great review 🙂 Interesting to read your thoughts- especially as you ponder on our dependence on all things modern and comfortable… if they were all to go poof one day, then, indeed- what would ensue?

    PS! Hope your living room is doing OK! Water leaks are bloody nasty surprises!

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    1. Thank you, fabulous one! I really enjoyed this post-apocalypse read as it made me think about what we deem important, and it had been a while since I’d ventured into the genre.
      My living room is… well, it has seen better days! Can’t believe we’ve only been here five months and we’re already having issues! The building is new!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve been eyeing this book ever since I first saw that gorgeous cover and read the blurb! I can’t wait for it to be published so I can get a copy. Wonderful review! ❤

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  4. I was very surprised by this book and i think that was one of the reasons why i ended up being disappointed.
    As you say, it was a great account of how people would behave if something like this happened. I on the other hand expected a thrilling murder mystery, which was kind of in the background. It was realistic, but i thought it will be more fast paced and more things would happen.

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  5. Absolutely wonderful review Meggy, you only experienced it quite differently than me but I requested it for the promise of a murder mystery so you see that’s not exactly what I was getting and I just couldn’t adapt to the other genre. I’m happy you loved it so much though!

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